April 11, 2010

April 11, 2010
We Need Some Carpenters

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Sunday and I hope you are having a safe and great weekend so far. It is a rainy and windy day with lightning, wind gusts and thunder here in South Florida.

We have to have some rain sometime to help keep all the plants alive since most of the time we have sunshine. But I am sure those of you who work during the week wishes it would happen during the week instead of when you have a couple of days off to enjoy life.

So I am running the dogs out for their walks in between the downpours. My two girls are such prissy little things. They hate to get their feet wet so they hate going outside on days like today. While they normally practically beg to keep their walks going, today they are ready to come back inside as soon as they can and get some more rest.

So today I am working on the project website and taking care of correspondence and phone calls. I added our Dab the AIDS Bear's Angel for April so be sure to check out who is our angel this month. A hint is he is a great advocate for our community, spoke at the World AIDS Day banquet in Jacksonville this past year, has written a book and is a musician. I also added a dear friend who recently passed away to our Guardian Angels section of the website. Clint will be deeply missed my many. I look forward to when we see each other again.

But on to my subject of the blog today about carpenters.

Angrily, President Lyndon Johnson went west late in 1964. For the third straight year, Congress had failed to enact a comprehensive health care plan for older people, and he pointedly blamed Republicans and conservative Democrats. At a California rally, he shared an important Texas truth. "Any jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build one." Nine months later, Congress enacted Medicare.

Four decades later, it is time for another generation of carpenters. Now it is less about revamping the health care system of our nation and more about reconstructing our polarized and paralyzed political system. In fact, the federal government seems incapable of making any touch decisions. Grand compromise is a forgotten art. Short term pain for future gain is a nonstarter. Instead, Capitol Hill politics has become a prelude to combat when it is suppose to be about problem solving.

Consider the forces at play:

Election year politics. All 435 House seats and 33 in the Senate are up for grabs. Recent Republican victories have energized Republicans and frightened Democrats. Now both are preoccupied with scoring talking points.

Capitol Hill Politics. Members have long memories. Democrats and Republicans both carry grudges from when the other party had the majority. After closed meetings, ignored requests, insulting attacks and presumed slights; it is payback time. All this while American soldiers are losing their lives, 14 million people need jobs and 30 million lack adequate health insurance.

Special Interest Money. The Center for Responsive Politics tracks campaign contributions and lobbying spending on TV ads, town hall rallies, mailing and back room arm twisting. With health care reform on the agenda in 2009, no organization spent more on lobbying then the US Chamber of Commerce ($144.5 million) which successfully opposed mandating employer provided health insurance and closing a business tax break for health expenses. The insurance industry, which spent $166.4 million in campaign contributions and lobbying last year, successfully opposed a single payer system and minimized cuts in Medicare Advantage plans. Trial lawyers, whose contributions and lobbying totaled $63 million, blocked limits on medical malpractice lawsuits.

When Democrats proposed expanding Medicare to people between 55 and 65, hospitals and doctors, whose 2009 campaign and lobbying expenses totaled $200 million; targeted key senators and blocked it. With the nation's obesity problem in mind, another plan would have added a 3 cent a bottle excise tax on soft drinks and sugar products. But the food and beverage industry spent $30 million, a 50 percent jump from its 2008 spending and killed it.

Health care legislation is never easy. But the current battle exposed a larger problem. Today, it is the house of politics and government that needs reconstruction. Bring on the carpenters. There is plenty to do.

Those are my thoughts. What about yours? Drop me a line and let me know.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab